KISS-Symphony (2003)

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Released 25-Sep-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Menu Animation & Audio
Interviews-Cast- On 'Rove Live'
Bonus Track-Performance of 'Sure Know Something' On 'Rove Live'
Web Links
DVD Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 206:55 (Case: 219)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (40:48)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Johnathan Beswick
Victor Burroughs

Starring Paul Stanley
Peter Criss
Gene Simmons
Tommy Thayer
David Campbell
Case Gatefold
RPI $44.95 Music KISS

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio Varies
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Varies Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    KISS are without a doubt one of the most instantly recognisable bands in the world and even if you're only vaguely familiar with the group you should know exactly what to expect from their well rehearsed shows - bold theatrics, bright pyrotechnics, loud hard rock music, blood, breasts and war paint. The band have essentially been performing the same stage routine for over 20 years and they do it well. The difference with the performance presented here is the inclusion of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Campbell. Campbell and the MSO had collaborated previously on the opening ceremony score for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, so the task of bringing together the hottest band in the world and an internationally renowned orchestra would have been formidable. The result however is not only entertaining - it impressed even this cynical non-KISS convert a great deal.

    The KISS Symphony event was staged in Melbourne's Telstra Stadium and marked the band's 30th anniversary. For KISS fans the concert was akin to Mecca, drawing visitors from all over the world to witness this unique and highly anticipated show. How does the event translate to DVD, you ask? You'll have to read on.

Disc 1: The KISS Symphony Story & Act Three (94:33)

    The first disc begins with a thirty minute feature covering how the event came to be. Starting at the home of conductor David Campbell, we follow the progress of production from early meetings and brainstorming sessions through to some nail-biting final rehearsals and ultimately the mighty hour-long third act of the performance. Included in the first half hour are interviews with crazy KISS fans and many band and orchestra members, along with conductor David Campbell. The most satisfying moment of the rehearsal footage is witnessing the band and orchestra's initial struggle to find common ground, and after many second thoughts and blank stares developing a unique and admirable harmony. This presentation of the third act is identical in content to the third act on disc two.

Disc 2: The Kiss Symphony - Acts One, Two & Three (112:55)

    The second disc of our set includes the entire three-act performance uninterrupted. Act one consists of six songs performed by the band on their own, beginning with the classic rocker Deuce, followed by Strutter. This first act really has the appearance of a normal KISS stage show, giving fans a familiar starting point with which to begin the experience.

    Act two introduces a small twelve-piece ensemble onto the stage, opening with a beautiful rendition of Beth, sung by drummer Peter Criss and surprisingly true to the original version. The five song set with ensemble includes the catchy tune Sure Know Something and concludes with a moving rendition of Shandi.

    The third and final act takes what we experienced in act two to an entirely new extreme, combining instantly recognisable KISS tunes with a full orchestra in make-up and bold string arrangements. The Australian Children's Choir takes the stage for the song Great Expectations, providing a soothing accompaniment to the band and orchestra and arguably contributes the highlight of the concert. A KISS show wouldn't be complete without Gene Simmons' bass solo, spitting blood and flying through the air on wires. For sheer entertainment value and rock and roll theatrics you simply cannot go wrong with this DVD. Casual and dedicated fans alike will love what is surely the greatest KISS performance to date.

Track Listing

Act One - KISS

Act Three - KISS & The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra

1. Deuce 12. Detroit Rock City
2. Strutter 13. King Of The Night Time World
3. Let Me Go Rock and Roll 14. Do You Love Me
4. Lick It Up 15. Great Expectations
5. Calling Dr. Love 16. Shout It Out Loud
6. Psycho Circus 17. God Of Thunder
  18. Love Gun

Act Two - KISS & Melbourne Symphony Ensemble

19. I Was Made For Loving You
7. Beth 20. Black Diamond
8. Forever 21. Rock and Roll All Nite
9. Goin' Blind  
10. Sure Know Something  
11. Shandi  

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    As far as concert performances go, this show has received a fair presentation on DVD with only a few minor issues of concern. The video content of this package is presented in a variety of aspect ratios due to the many different cameras that were used, ranging from 1.44:1 to 1.78:1. The feature on both discs is 16x9 enhanced. On a 16x9 display black bars appear intermittently on the left and right of the screen, but the editing of this performance is so fast and the background so dark that most viewers are not likely to notice this inconsistency.

    The majority of the presentation is sharp and clear and is only let down by the use of some lesser quality cameras on stage. The sharp decline in picture clarity is obvious during act three, with a number of the cameras facing the orchestra and drummer Peter Criss appearing quite blurry in comparison with the remainder of the footage. Shadow detail is well represented in shots of the stage and the audience, with good, visible detail to be seen in most areas. Low level noise didn't appear to be an issue in this transfer.

    Colours are bright and bold, as you would expect during the brightly lit concert footage, however the home video and rehearsal footage on disc one does vary a lot, looking almost oversaturated at times and washed out at others. Obviously the quality of production is much greater for the concert performance, and this does not suffer from any of the issues that are found in the short documentary on disc one.

    Compression artefacts are well controlled until the finale of act three, which incidentally appears on both discs. It is at this high point of the feature that the video bitrate struggles to cope with the higher detail required for falling confetti, leading to some obvious macro blocking that lasts for several minutes and is quite noticeable. There are a number of other minor examples of MPEG grain during the feature, but these are only very brief and not at all distracting. Aliasing is similarly well controlled throughout, but does creep up intermittently during distant shots of the stage. There were no film artefacts to be concerned about.

    There are no subtitles available on this release.

    Both of the discs in this package are RSDL formatted with the layer transition placed during act three in each case. The layer transition of disc one is placed at 40:48 after the track Shout It Out Loud, while the layer change on disc two is located before Shout It Out Loud at 63:50. Neither of the pauses are too disruptive to the flow of the concert and only briefly interrupt audience applause and cheering.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three audio options included on this title. The default stream is Dolby Digital 5.1 on both discs, encoded at 448Kb/s. A Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s) stereo stream is also available, along with a dts track encoded at 1536Kb/s. It should be noted that neither of the six channel audio options contain an active front centre output, effectively making them only 4.1 channels.

    There are no problems concerning vocal delivery during the feature, however there are the usual enunciation issues that go hand in hand with rock performances. Many of these songs are new to me and I found some lyrics hard to grab on the first listen, but I have no doubt that your average KISS fan would have no problem singing along with this DVD. I did not experience any problems concerning audio sync during the concert.

    I first watched disc one with the dts track selected and found it a bit disappointing, to be honest. The stream has good depth when it comes to strings and percussion, however the electric guitars seemed somehow lifeless and reserved. I was pleased to find the Dolby Digital 5.1 track provides a much clearer balance between the band and the orchestra, with greater definition of the guitars and a stronger presence all round. In what seems to be a growing trend, the Dolby Digital 5.1 stream is mastered at least 3Db louder than the dts alternative on this release.

    The stereo option provides a good two channel representation of the concert, but struggles to deliver the crisp definition of either of the surround options. In this case, the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is my clear favourite.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 option is similarly advanced when it comes to surround usage, with more prominent rear activity even after allowing for the differences in output level. Crowd noise and cheering is directed strongly to the rear channels, along with some spill from the front left and right channels. The inclusion of a string ensemble in act two and the orchestra performance of act three sees some string sections spilling to the rear channels, along with sharp bursts of brass now and then. Again, I would have to rate the Dolby Digital 5.1 track above the dts option for its superior immersive feel.

    The subwoofer was put to good use, accentuating the bass guitar and kick drum effectively without dominating the experience.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are a couple of worthwhile extras included on disc two.


    The main menu and scene selection menus on both discs are animated with scenes from the concert, along with stereo audio clips. The menu systems are not 16x9 enhanced, which is strange considering that the remainder of the package certainly does include 16x9 enhancement.

Band interview and performance on Rove Live (13:34)

    This is the complete interview from KISS's appearance on the Australian variety show ROVE Live. Here the band discusses the intense preparations that were involved with the event and what they hope to achieve with their performance. Guitarist Tommy Thayer expresses his elation at being part of the group and divulges some pieces of the setlist that fans can expect. Afterward the group performs Sure Know Something in the studio, accompanied by the Melbourne Symphony Ensemble, conducted by David Campbell.

    The footage lacks a lot of sharpness in the video department, but is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, as it was broadcast digitally. The audio is a very thin stereo mix, with the vocals extremely dominant.

Web Links

    Two links are available via your PC, one to the official KISS website and a second to the band's record label.

DVD Credits

    Several pages of text are provided, identical in content to those in the booklet.


    The twelve page glossy booklet includes colour photos, detailed orchestra and production credits and complete track listings.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This title appears to be identical across all regions.


    The KISS Symphony combines all the theatrics, classic songs and posturing of your average KISS concert with one of the greatest Symphony Orchestras in the world, and all on Australian soil! For fans young and old this is not to be missed.

    The video transfer is variable and appears quite blurry in places.

    The audio transfer includes a disappointingly bland dts option.

    There are a couple of small extras included in this nice package.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Sunday, February 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
5.1 sound?? - REPLY POSTED
Sloppy editing ruins it for me - REPLY POSTED